Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Great Minds Think Alike

OYL and Wolf Parade have a similar aesthetic, so says the album art from the Krug-assisted forthcoming LP!


Thursday, April 22, 2010


I've been sifting through the various treasures I plundered (purchased with money) at AWP in the last couple of weeks, which run the spectrum from REALLY HIGH (Michael Chabon's personal phone number and measurements) to SO LOW (James Franco's personal phone number and measurements). Somewhere right up there near the tip-top, quite far indeed from Mr. Franco's very own original signed Green Goblin cape (Scribner bought that too and I'm not jealous, probably!), is Aaron Burch's new little book, HOW TO TAKE YOURSELF APART HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF ANEW. It straddles the line between genres, and also it is fun to read!

Burch runs HOBART (the CAPS, this guy!), the wonderful literary journal and blog. This collection, published by the similarly fabulous and Grade-A Nice Folks at PANK, shows Burch putting his feet into the worlds of prose poetry, flash fiction, and short shorts (the literary kind, not the garment -- Burch was not available for comment regarding hotpants by press time). That's three worlds he's in with just two feet, how does he do it! You be the judge, Justice Metaphor, we're not reviewing my book, here. HOW TO TAKE YOURSELF APART spreads itself out comfortably across three sections. Let's look at them together.

The first, "How to Take Yourself Apart: Instructions" seems to me a group of prose poems on the same titular theme. The book's subtitle, notes and instructions from/for a father, comes into play with the greatest force in this section, as each poem focuses on the idea of a conscious reconstruction of one's identity, a sort of emotional molting, an opening up on the speaker's behalf. We the readers are implicated here, too, as the poems are told in the imperative. The "How to" instructions work well for cohesion's sake -- I'm a sucker for the second-person, anyway (Lorrie Moore, hero!). Take an example of the kind of visceral imagery Burch is working with, here, from the first of the series:

"Gut yourself. Slice first from wrist to elbow fold -- slow and smooth, the sharper the blade the better. Remember the filet knife you gave your dad for Father's Day when you were ten." So, the speaker's taken that knife back from his father in order to transform himself, in a manner of speaking. He's become the father, now. I really love Burch's earnestness here -- throughout all of these poems. He's bursting with emotion (prick the skin and let it out!) at the idea of fatherhood, recognizing that he must become a new version of himself to take on the responsibility, to disassemble and reassemble himself to be better, his joints smoother, his flesh thicker, his heart bigger. It's moving stuff, even for a guy who can't handle the responsibility of paying alimony so his ex-girlfriend can take care of his old Beta fish now that she's left him (how could you take Bubbles, Christine!), let alone think of himself as one day having human children. Yikes!

The next section, "How to Fold Paper Cranes: tales" goes all narrative on you. Flash fiction is something I approach with trepidation, mostly because it's alien to me as a writer (in other words, it's not in my skill set, okay?). I like Burch's stories here, though not as strongly as I liked the sections sandwiching this one. I'm particularly pulled toward "Molting" and "There There," two of the more imagistic, less plot-driven shorts in the collection. In the first, a young girl wants to change her hands into wings, enlisting her friend to help to horrifying effect in the final lines. In the latter, Burch conveys the feeling of palpable longing for a lost love (tell me about it, am I right, internet?) by having his narrator physically ingest the woman he loves: "Or, I fold her as many times as I can, counting. I put her, folded in my mouth and swallow, pushing her down my throat with my index finger, inviting her to stay forever." I'm taking notes!

The final section of the book, "How to Make Yourself Anew: a bestiary," is my favorite by a few leaps and several bounds. More prose poems, each dedicated to a different animal, with Burch instructing the reader how to become the creature at hand. "Caladrius" picks up the earlier themes ingesting others' qualities -- here, taking someone's pain and making it your own, another selfless gesture that evinces Burch's fatherly thoughts -- and would have its readers confront those around us to take "their suffering, their sorrow and grief, heartache and sadness, take it all into your mouth, your beak, and hold tight but careful like a stork carrying a baby." The final image of the poem, touching on the Icarus myth but twisting it anew, got me all choked up (don't look, turn away!). Burch's prose, the contagion of his earnestness, so pure and guileless in its intent, hits with a quiet force. It's something to carry with you. I think his kids will be all right.


Monday, April 19, 2010

LCD Soundsystem's "Dance Yrself Clean"

My noble colleague Megan is wrapping up her thesis this week, so I'm afraid you, global audience, are stuck with just me for a little while. That means that OYL will quickly become ohyoungoverreportedindiemusic.blogspot.com. Yikes! Ms. Ronan will soon be back to bring a touch of class and diversity in subject matter, but for now -- hey, a song!

LCD Soundsystem's This is Happening will be released -- dropped, this is a dance record -- on May 17th (on DFA, which is now synonymous with Murphy's name) to universal acclaim and less hip-shaking than you might expect (but a lot of head-nodding and thoughts of hip-shaking, like "Hey, if I was going to shake my hips, I'd probably go left to right to achieve maximum velocity, and -- wait, where's my Pabst?"). The first track, "Dance Yrself Clean," went global last week, and now you can stream the whole album at LCD's naturally minimalist website.

"Dance Yrself Clean" is what we in the industry (the industry of blogging, in which OYL is something like Detroit) call a "jam." It is also, like "Get Innocuous," the first track on 2007's Sound of Silver, an exercise in how to turn slow-building head-bobbing into full-throttle, obscene movements of the waist. LCD head-honcho James Murphy lays down a minimal beat, replete with fuzzes of bass and a touch of cowbell, and his understated but newly confident vocals take the listener through what the listener wants James Murphy to take the listener through -- i.e., a day in the social life of Mr. Murphy himself. We get images of people "walking up to me expecting / walking up to me expecting words, / happens all the time."Could that be a reference to us, adoring fans that we are, bothering James at a club when he's just trying to wring that spot of Jay-Z's limited edition Diamond Filtered vodka out of his black skinny tie? (That vodka sounds delicious!) Or is he just talking about Aziz again?

The track also reminds us that James Murphy's still the funniest guy in indie music (send your apologies to Eddie Argos in Art Brut -- just kidding, no one remembers who that is!). As the song builds, Murphy reflects on a friend "talking like a jerk / except you are an actual jerk, / and living proof / that sometimes friends are mean." I know that guy! The moment's an instance of one of the stronger tools in Murphy's arsenal -- using humor and irony to make a song about the slight, sad isolation of life in your late 20s-early 30s ring true without a hint of sentimentality. At the three minute mark, he turns up the volume and the bass, and the track's title becomes a mantra of how to forget, for eight minutes or so, the self-indulgence of that post-grad ennui.

It's a moving (in regards to both heart and hips) piece of music, and I'm even willing to ignore the Kerouac-ian omission of the "ou" in the title (I'll believe it's Sonic Youth-ian, instead, and not a nod to the guy who ruined American prose, whoops!). It is not, of course, another "All My Friends." It couldn't be. The album stream reveals that no other track on This Is Happening quite reaches those heights. That's fine -- I'll let Murphy play these tracks back to back live, and then I'll nod my head with the rest of the crowd, saying, yeah, this is a guy worth following wherever he'll take us.


RE: LCD Soundsystem's "Dance Yrself Clean"

I recently had the pleasure of hanging out in Corey’s living room with a couch-surfing Frenchman and a visitor from Boston. The Frenchman eventually wants to end up in CA, so if you’re driving west and know a little French, let us know! Real conversation:

Megan: I am provincial.

Corey: We global.

And what, oh what, served as our background music on this surreal yet gritty provincial-global night? Why, This is Happening, of course. And it served the occasion well. I felt cool and not so terribly embarrassed to be a provincial American. All this is to say that This is Happening does fit nicely into the post-grad scene of 25 year-olds hanging out on mismatched couches in yellowish overhead lighting. You know how you imagined your 20-something self when you were nine? I’m so cool and I can do whatever I want so I’m going to sit on this couch with my friends and laugh like in that beer commercial. Yes, This is Happening makes me feel like I’ve achieved that. And makes me not so terribly depressed about it.

The lyrics to Dance Yrself Clean riff on sound and pun in a really relaxed, fun, and sonically satisfying way. Think Haryette Mullen really stoned and silly, maybe. This is the kind of playful, sensual, yet sincere attitude I find in my favorite writers. Good night, good music. Thanks LCD Soundsystem!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

The National's "Terrible Love" and Foals's "Spanish Sahara"

Hey, AWP was fun! Denver seems like a nice place, and I'm sure I could find something complimentary to say about each and every one of you 9,000 attendees! (Look for ohyoung9000AWPcompliments.blogspot.com tomorrow!) If you got a bookmark from me or Megan, leave us a comment or send an email -- we'd love to hear from you. Watch for an AWP retrospective post, coming soon.

In the meantime, hey, music is happening! The National, who live in Brooklyn (just like you!) and who have justly become One of The Biggest Bands in the World (on an indie, not-very-big scale!), have a new album, High Violet, coming out on May 11 on 4AD. The band's been responsible for Boxer, my favorite album of 2007, the mega-jam Alligator in 2005, and two other you-know-really-not-too-bad albums before those. They've gotten better with each release, so High Violet gives me goosebumps in anticipation at night (because I am alone, so so very alone). They premiered "Terrible Love," track number uno from the record, live on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (for the record -- number of shows Jimmy Fallon has: 1; number of shows Conan O'Brien has: 0, so don't forget to write your senator!) in March.

Jimmy Fallon's hair asks, "You ready for some good music?"

Yes, Jimmy Fallon's hair, yes I am.

And lo, it is delivered. All reviews of anything The National does must have a line that references vocalist Matt Berninger's ________ baritone, and I'm going to go with "sultry," here. Vocalist Matt Berninger's sultry baritone scratches just the right spot in my inner ear, and it's nice to have it back. Berninger's on the record as a big John Ashbery fan, and I suppose that's at least somewhat on display here, especially in the opening lines: "It's a terrible love / and I'm walking with spiders /-- it's quite a company." Slightly absurd, a little funny, a touch of foreboding. I think Ashbery could get into that. In any case, the lines work with the slow build of the song's first two minutes, before The National does what they do best, bringing in an aching and pulse-pounding crescendo of a bridge. Bryan Devendorf's consistently mind-blowing drumming -- simple but inventive, creating hooks in its own right -- starts to ratchet up the stakes, but the band pulls back. Berninger uses the space to intone, "It takes an ocean not to break [drift? drift would be better, I'll tell him in workshop]," which becomes the song's refrain, gaining Importance and Meaning of Incredible, Galactic Weight as these things tend to do when repeated over and over while an awesome band plays their instruments awesomely.

When the band lets loose at the 3 minute mark, finally allowing all that energy to come coursing out, it's well worth the wait, an example in expert-level pacing and release. This album will be huge. Good work in advance, guys!

The National's hype machine is in full effect, and that's all well and good. They're one of the best bands of the decade, so word from the mouths of blogs and that girl with the keffiyeh makes perfect sense, and it's nice to see a band getting the respect and attention they deserve. Some bands don't have such a churning chorus of voices behind them, though. The UK's Foals also have a new album dropping in May -- Sub Pop will release Total Life Forever, the follow-up to 2008's Antidotes, on the 10th of that month.

Antidotes came out on the tail-end of the Bloc Party-inspired dancepunk craze (music blogging!). I think it was a big hit in the UK, though I'm still waiting for Wellingborough Rufflefeather, OYL's London correspondent, to file a report on that. Still, it didn't make big waves in the States. "Spanish Sahara," the lead single/video from the new record, signals that Foals may have read that as a sign to experiment with a new sound. No breakbeats here, no yelping vocals, no guitars that a music blogger might (just might) describe as "angular". Rather, we have Yannis Phillipakis leading his band through a field of electronic blips and falsetto musings, imploring his listener to "leave the horror here / forget the horror here". It's atmospheric, in a word, and quite successfully so. Lest you think Foals is going all "Treefingers" on you, the band comes to life at 4:07 and gives you a summer jam for your trouble.

The video, by the way, is well worth your time, featuring gorgeous cinematography courtesy of David Ma. Frozen ice swells, glacial mountainscapes, burning carcasses of some sort, and a single tear moment from Yannis Phillipakis! God save the Queen!


RE: The National's "Terrible Love" and Foals's "Spanish Sahara"/Megan's Triumphant Return


So, AWP kicked my ass. I got back and had to catch up/thesisize my thesis, read at a So to Speak event, and then leave again for a wedding in New Jersey. I left my new copy of Sandra Doller’s Chora on the Vamoose bus. So, expect to wait a little longer before I review it.

Dear Corey,

I am sorry for neglecting you/your blog posts. But I have returned. Forgive me. And rejoice—your faithful readers all wrote to their senators and now Conan O’Brien has been granted a late night show on TBS. Wait, TBS? I thought they only aired teen-themed movie marathons. Do they have time for Conan between Clueless, Can’t Hardly Wait, 10 Things I Hate About You, and She’s All That?

So, music? Music.

A) I love Jimmy Fallon & want to write sexy poems about him.

B) The National album High Violet comes out on May 11th, which is my mom’s birthday! Hi Mom! Just misses mother’s day, though, on May 9th, for all of you hoping to buy this album for your indie-moms.

C) I have to agree with Corey about the mounting tension of this song—so slow, so suspenseful, so inevitable, so satisfying. I’m seduced by the song by the time the guitar sound picks up around 1:50; from there on out it’s that thick, heady, lost in steady, building head-banging feeling. The indie jumping up and down dance ensues.

D) Now, I hate to correct Corey, and chances are that he has better sources than I do, but I searched the lyrics and found, “It’s a terrible love / and I’m walking with spiders / it’s quiet company / it’s quiet company.” This feels tragic yet comforting to me.

E) They gave an AWESOME performance. I like to see me some rock stars up on stage—I’d love to view them in concert.

Hey, guess what? The National is playing AT The National in Richmond on Thursday, April 22 . . . AND there are still tickets available.

Foals? Foals.

A) I usually HATE when websites make sound at me. It is jarring, unexpected, intrusive, unbearable. But sometimes I make exceptions. The flash images/music on the Foals webpage is not designed to brainwash you. It is pleasing. It doesn’t make me lunge toward my laptop going “ahh!” and fumbling to make it stop. What a crazy design ploy for the internet.

B) Doing my blog research (thanks, Wikipedia), I learned that Jack Bevan and Yannis Philippakis were once in a band called The Edmund Fitzgerald, classified as “math rock.” THERE IS SUCH A THING AS MATH ROCK? Sounds like a cool term/metaphor to me. So, continuing my research, it seems to me that Foals are kind of math-rock-lite, and that math-rock predecessors include some artists I actually know about—Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd. I would like everyone in the world to have more ELP in their life. So, not knowing earlier music from the Foals, but having done my research, it DOES seem like this smooth, somber sound is a departure from their roots. Yes, Corey? But I sense electronic play and the “the lunatic is on the grass” eeriness.

C) The video is crisp and beautiful. The bright, stark imagery reminds me of Insomnia (the 1997 Norwegian version by Erik Skjoldbjærg), and the slow close ups remind me a little of these beautiful video portraits by Ryan Poe (Hi old Fredericksburg friends!):

Video Portraits from Timothy Ryan Poe on Vimeo.

I leave you with your daily dose of ELP.



Friday, April 9, 2010

Finch Accessories & AWP

Hey everybody! Fast post from the bagel shop where I get internet in Denver. So, I got two new necklaces by Finch Accessories. They make these simple felt necklaces that they call "blooming bibs," and matching hair ties and hair bands. They are clean and almost preppy in their simplicity and color schemes, but channel flower-child hippie-ness. I love. I don't wear a lot of necklaces, and I've been looking for some statement/lay flat on my collar bone necklaces to make an outfit out of plain t-shirts/scoop necks.

I will be wearing this around AWP this week! Come see us. Get a bookmark.


RE: Finch Accessories & AWP

I'm enjoying Megan's new necklaces. You, too, could have Spring bursting forth from your very throat. Plus, they look great when paired with an OYL bookmark! Grab one here at AWP! More to come soon.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

OYL at AWP 2010

Oh, Young Lions is Denver-bound for the 2010 AWP Conference! Come visit Megan at the So to Speak table in the bookfair or see if you can spot Corey's garish and brazenly large, orange head! Say hi. We'll give you a bookmark.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Elisa Gabbert's The French Exit

So, the blog world has been telling me about this new press, Birds LLC, and this new book, The French Exit by Elisa Gabbert. And I’ve been thinking, I should buy this book. And then I walk into my office, and what is sitting on my desk? Review copy! This was very exciting for me. I am not usually important enough to get review copies of anything. And to be fair, I think it was actually in Phoebe’s mail. Fortunately the poetry editor over at Phoebe is my roommate and friend, Moriah Purdy. She will probably forgive me for swiping it.

Gabbert has done some pretty fun stuff as a guest over at HTMLGiant, like this amazing list of “moves” in contemporary poetry and a recent bar graph of personal clichés in reviews, blogs and books, and I’ve seen parts of her collaborative work with Kathleen Rooney before, so I was really interested to read the book. And the title is sexy. “Exit” is such a cool word.

So, I had to look up what the phrase “French exit” actually means, and it refers to when someone leaves a place stealthily, without saying goodbye. It seems to be used in the context of social events/parties. . . when someone sneaks away and is gone when you turn around to look for them. What’s satisfying about this is that so much of Gabbert’s book deals with dream-like experiences and fears. This is what dreams so often do, sneak away before you’re done with them, leaving you feeling powerless, afraid of your own impotence. There are a few moments in the book where she really nabs my most common, terrifying dream experience—feeling in some way paralyzed. In the first poem, “Commissioned,” she writes:

You find a notebook, the first several pages

filled in with your own writing, red pen.

You must know what it says.

But in the dream you can’t read it.

In dreams there’s no quality to the weather.

But an orange sky, hanging. Something it means.

Your own writing in red! Urgent and intimate but you can’t access it! I have recurring dreams where I’m being attacked up against the fence in the front yard of the home I lived in growing up, and people are very close by who could save me, but I CAN’T SCREAM. I HAVE NO VOICE. TERRIFYING.

She ends “Decoherence,” “I keep thinking about a woman I met. / One day, approaching an intersection, / she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to stop walking.” This reminds me of a common dream I have where I’m walking down a busy road w/o sidewalks. There’s plenty of room on the shoulder of the road for me to walk, BUT I CAN’T WALK STRAIGHT. I keep veering into traffic. I can’t stay out of the road. I have no control over my body. I know I’m going to get hit by a car. Please email with psychoanalysis.

Anyway, so much of desire (our dreams) is also fear, and Gabbert complicates desire and anxiety. This was a refreshing take on human want. And yet the language comes off as poet-casual. She makes the meta-poetic conversational (throughout the book, but the second section, in particular, is comprised completely of “Blogpoems” she wrote for a project on Chris Tonelli’s blog), isn’t afraid of puns, and has some really playful conceits (“Where do holes go / to die? Their cemetery / sure would seem a waste / of space—all those graves / of graves. . . “).

So, there are a million off-site events I want to see at AWP, and Gabbert is reading at one of them. It’s Thursday night at Mercury Café, and it’s hosted by six small presses, including Birds, LLC. There are a bunch of other readers, too, so if you’re interested, check it out on the AWP site.


RE: Elisa Gabbert's The French Exit

First of all, my dreams consist almost exclusively of me successfully lifting heavy objects or dolphin-skiing around glistening Lake Beasley (the proper technique of dolphin-skiing: step 1, put one foot on one dolphin, step 2, repeat, step 3, ski) while people on the shore applaud and feed me grapes. This is all to say that I'm worried about my colleague Megan, and encourage her to go seek out a dream doctor who will help her with her dreams (because those exist and I learned about them in dream medical school, duh). In any case, despite the fact that my psyche is extremely healthy and has excellent muscle definition*, I really enjoyed Elisa Gabbert's poems in The French Exit, particularly those that deal with the dreamlike imagery that Megan discussed.

*the opposite of that

I particularly love the lines in "Decoherence" quoted by my esteemed co-blogger, though I like them more when taken as swinging toward realism rather than the surrealistic: "I keep thinking about a woman I met. / One day, approaching an intersection, / she was afraid she wouldn't be able to stop walking." I've had moments where that kind of self-destructive impulse seems to raise itself over the horizon in a way that seems to draw me to it, unalterably. It reminds me of that opening passage in Moby-Dick (I promise I've read other books) where Ishmael's confessing his vaguely suicidal impulses: "...it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off." Both Ishmael and the speaker in "Decoherence" want to avoid these self-destructive encounters, but both feel as if doing so is almost impossible, out of their control. It hits me as being pretty real, the kind of crystalline sentiment I'd feel uneasy revealing in my own work but would reward in someone else's texts with exclamation points in the margins.

The Blogpoem section of the book is probably my favorite, and Gabbert gives us more of those sharply captured moments of anxiety. "Lousy Day Blogpoem" goes, "Was the end of a lousy day. Drank too much / and everyone agreed my emotions were implausible." What's up with everyone doing that all the time?! My emotions always seem plausible to me, and even if most everyone seems to be in the other camp too frequently for my comfort, Gabbert gets it. Thanks for that!


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Moshe Safdie's Building for Peace

You know how New York gets all those exciting architecturally innovative new buildings? I guess they get them in metropolises like Philadelphia and Miami and -- yes!! -- Oh, Young Lions' lesser-known sister city, Stuttgart, also. BUT, did you know that Washington, D.C., the nation's capital, is also occasionally thought of as a Major U.S. City with People Living In It? Sometimes, architects even take a break from hobnobbing in Stuttgart to build stuff here, too!

If you've been on Constitution Avenue lately to protest abortion rights, lack of abortion rights, wars in the Middle East, lack of wars in the Middle East, or Jay Leno taking over The Tonight Show (again!), you've likely noticed the construction at the corner of 23rd St NW. This spot marks the border of the National Mall, which means it would be an excellent spot for the new National California Tortilla. However, something called The United States Institute for Peace snapped up the real estate first.

The USIP is building their new Headquarters and Global Peacebuilding Center there, slated to open in 2011. As they put it, the Center will "house a Public Education Center, a research library and archives, classrooms, and a world-class conference center. It will be a powerful and lasting affirmation of the American people’s commitment to peace." It will also, as luck would have it, look great!

The institute tapped Moshe Safdie to design the building -- he's also behind the preposterously luxurious Marina Bay Sands Resort in Singapore, the awesome and boxy Habitat 67 complex in Montreal, and the admittedly EPCOT-y ATF Headquarters in DC. Safdie's fixation on the interaction between natural light and his buildings often makes them, you know, nice to look at; what's more, his love of playing with the separation between public and private space would seem to make him the perfect architect for a pseudo-governmental building in Washington, where serious business will be balanced against an open invitation to the public to come hang out and take in some exhibits and lectures. Even better, Safdie's Palestinian-born, and holds citizenship in the US, Canada, and Israel. It's almost like he's a walking Institute for Peace, himself! Look at the way the light interacts with the public/private space of his impressive mustache:

The USIP posits that Safdie's design "will consist of three distinct sections linked together by atriums covered by large-span undulating roofs. The building’s roofs form a dramatic series of wing-like elements constructed of steel frames and white translucent glass." I like the roof construction, and I think it gets at the feeling of flight without -- take some notes for your next building, loyal reader Moshe Safdie -- going too heavy on the Our Roof Looks Like a Floating White Dove idea. It's clean, impressively dramatic, and eye-catching without seeming overly ostentatious in the comparably simplistic Constitution Ave (and, yeah, DC) aesthetic. All that white and open space makes the building fit unintrusively with its neighbor, the Lincoln Memorial, while its heavy emphasis on clear glass gives it a contemporary edge sorely lacking in DC's public image as a Greco-Roman city on the hill.

Though the facade's coming together nicely, as you can see from the street as you drive by, we can't go inside yet. We'll have to wait to get a taste of how the atrium hits the eye from the inside, as well as what the various exhibition and conference halls end up looking like. Still, it's exciting to have DC back on the architectural map, even slightly. I look forward to helping Safdie clean off the egg from Teabagger protests. Here, here!


Saturday, April 3, 2010

RE: Moshe Safdie's Building for Peace

As soon as I saw Corey’s post I thought, “DC is getting an Epcot?” So I was doubly disappointed when I found out that a) I was wrong and b) Corey already used that joke. It is cool looking, but seriously, doesn’t all that white get dirty in a city? Don’t Apple products have the same problem? Can’t we come up with a more interesting and care-friendly color to make us feel powerful and progressive? Can I use a bleach stick on it? It kind of looks like a space colony. All our science fiction of advanced, human-like aliens from the future is really a projection of how we want the aliens to think of us when we meet. Dear DC: The Institute for Peace comes in peace. And we’re cool and moral and high-tech.

While Corey has already revealed his hipster-envy of the sexy “ménage-a-everyone” city life, I’d rather crawl into a ball under my bed. I have a fetish for glamour, yes, but cities are loud and I get lost easily. They make me want to cover my ears and quiver my lip like a child in an amusement park. I think the last time I trekked the few miles from Fairfax to DC was in the fall. John Taggart was doing an American Hybrid Reading at Bridge Street Books. Not many things entice me the way John Taggart's poetry does.

Highjinx and my antisocial tendencies aside, I do like that the building is so airy. Open yet constructed space is so lovely and, yes, peaceful. It looks like I’d feel held within some safe, pleasant bounds but not in an institutional way. (But maybe an enjoying-the-high-of-the-blue-pill kind of way?) Because, doesn’t there seem to be something ironic about our need for an Institute for Peace? It is a noble endeavor, and I like the public/private dynamic that Corey discussed; I’m just a poet thinking poetically here. I think I should write a poem called “Institute for Peace.” I think you should, too.



Friday, April 2, 2010

Boy / Band of Outsiders

It is very spring-like this week in sunny Fairfax, VA. I love warm weather, and I love spring clothes even more. In the past few weeks we've been introduced to the new Fall 2010 lines, but really, let's dwell for a minute in the here-and-now. You know, the reality of designer clothes I can't afford on my MFA stipend.

Boy & Band of Outsiders, at least, do present lines that are wearable. I'm not criticizing the fashion world. Clothes are art. I appreciate the creativity of people like Alexander McQueen, whose designs advanced fashion and whose death is sure to set it back. And I would wear those clothes if, say, I lived in NY or just didn't live most of my life around 18 year olds in George Mason University sweat pants. Boy & Band of Outsiders, though, make clothes that, were I able to afford them, might be appropriate for my mundane, grad school in Northern Virginia lifestyle. And these people are fun! The clothes and the presentations are self-aware and energetic. The style plays with New England prep and polish and American Apparel rawness and ironic grit.

The printed shirtdress in the picture above, for instance, pulls off feminine and pretty, but is still serious about design. And I cannot tell you how much I want that color block shift above. The shape, the neckline, the sleeve, the below-the-knee hem--this is real glamor without the sex, sex, sex. The website also has pictures of several of those striped mohair sweaters, which look soft and slinky. I want those, too. The one big mistake I think Boy makes is those lace up stilettos by Manolo Blahnik. They are really just ugly, and I think lace-up anything is hard to pull off. Design quirkiness still has to be flattering, right?

So, I have failed to really talk about Band of Outsiders, the men's collection, at all. They do great men's clothing, which is hard to find these days. If it were up to me I'd dress Corey in all Band of Outsiders this spring. Actually, never mind, if it were up to me, Corey & I would both be in a Jean-Luc Godard movie. I did just find out that Bande à part is based on a novel. Reading project.


Friday, April 2, 2010

RE: Boy / Band of Outsiders

Band of Outsiders' most recent photoshoot for the men's line has a few chiseled (but not TOO chiseled, maybe something like granite instead of marble) dudes hanging out on a boat with a lovely blonde woman, whom I assume is a willing participant in a kind of futuristic, Huxley-style consensual menage-a-everyone -- in other words, the lifestyle that comes with living in Brooklyn and going to parties with James Murphy and Kanye West (because, duh, everyone in Brooklyn has to mark their calendars for nights with celebrities in advance, like Tuesdays with Kanye and Thursdays with Jonathan Safran Foer & Spencer Pratt who have to share a day because they've both sort of fallen in public esteem lately, sorry guys!). I'd like to point out that I've been rocking the vaguely nautical for years now -- I knew the name Sperry Topsiders before I knew the name Ezra Koenig, thanks all! -- which I attribute somewhat to the influence of Herman Melville, love of my life and light of my seersucker shorts-clad loins. He would've loved pique polo shirts!

I share Megan's financial envy, here, as I think Band of Outsiders hits right at the perfect sweet spot between Trust Fund and Bushwick (whoops, sort of the same thing, but you get the idea). Teaching's given me an excuse to Dress Up My Life lately, and I'm more comfortable now wearing a tie around Fairfax's stripmalls than not (impressed yet, lady at Smoothie King?). The menswear here, especially Outsiders' ties oh man, is contemporary without being flashy. Nice! And, by the way, Aziz Ansari -- star of the funniest show on network TV and also the most well-dressed young man on NBC (your tie's too skinny even for me, Joel McHale) -- reps for the label, which means you can't go wrong. He, after all, actually DOES hang out with James Murphy and Kanye, and they tweet about it SO GOOD! Check him out in Band of Outsiders on the cover of his new comedy LP:

Even more well-dressed than the polar bear, mother nature's Guy Who Wears a White Tuxedo to Your Senior Prom. Good work, everyone!